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atheism and arguments

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#1
alphaparticle

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Most atheists, these days in particular with new atheism, have little of substance to say. Their arguments are exceptionally poor. They do things like, quote 'problematic' biblical passages that someone else found to show that God has ordered people killed, that sort of thing. They make naive comparisons between belief in God and belief in Santa. They will complain about the crusades and witch hunts. They will scatter a bunch of these half baked notions at you, without stopping to digest any possible response, and walk away feeling triumphant that their 'reason' has triumphed against your faith. These people are problematic only insofar as they can take in others who are very poorly prepared, poorly educated in their faith, and make it sound like educated, smart people need to be atheists. I can't imagine they are a problem for anyone who is rooted. I'm sure there's plenty to say about the run of the mill new atheist, the one who maybe read a Sam Harris book and spent some time snickering on the internet. My concern is more that these types will cause complacency for believers. What happens when a believer encounters of a few of these guys, and then assumes this is as good as it gets from the unbelieving secular crowd as a challenge?

 

My concern is about those atheists/agnostics who are not a part of this naive new atheist crowd, and have taken the time to get to know their arguments. For those who don't have experience with them, they might be taken as the easier sort I described above. Believers who have only really experienced the easier sort will not be prepared for the sophisticated version of atheist. As one example, there are secular types who are university scholars in the New Testament. It does not seem wise to me to assume that in an encounter with someone like this, I could defeat them no problem. There are secular types who are professional philosophers, and so forth. I'm not arguing that these people are unbeatable, not at all, but it's going to take some real time and effort to deal with what they have to say. The types of atheists who take the time to get to know serious arguments, serious content, are going to pose a risk. It's not because they are right, but it's because naive believers who may have never encountered a real, seriously thought out alternative to their faith will encounter it. These nonbelievers are often a part of an intellectual elite, where the message "smart people are nonbelievers" actually comes alive rather than blithely asserted. They present a worldview that becomes attractive in very subtle ways.

 

When the truth is that even your most basic Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins type argument can sway some believers to walk away (even if it's only for a time), it seems wise to have a bit more respect for the opposition here. The upshot of what I am saying is, I think believers should not assume every secular nonbelieving type is going to offer easy to dismiss arguments, and that I think believers should be aware of that and overall much more prepared.

 

My question to you is, what your experiences are with this, if you think I'm correct, and what you'd suggest others do specifically if they want to atheist or agnostics?


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#2
FresnoJoe

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The upshot of what I am saying is, I think believers should not assume every secular nonbelieving type is going to offer easy to dismiss arguments, and that I think believers should be aware of that and overall much more prepared.

 

My question to you is, what your experiences are with this, if you think I'm correct, and what you'd suggest others do specifically if they want to atheist or agnostics?

 

~

 

Beloved, Are You Going Into Battle

 

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:12

 

Unarmed

 

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Ephesians 6:17

 

Unwise

 

Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; 1 Corinthians 3:18-21

 

And Compromised

 

Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. James 4:4

 

Think You Will Be Called A Fool

 

The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. Psalms 14:1

 

Well, You Won't Be The First

 

And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: Hebrews 11:26

 

Stand Fast

 

Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; Philippians 1:27

 

And Be Blessed Beloved

 

When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. Isaiah 43:2

 

Love, Your Brother Joe


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#3
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Very nice, thanks FresnoJoe.


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#4
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Jusus says that if a person, or even a city, will not listen to you or welcome you, then you are shake off the dust from your shoes and walk away. Being a witness means telling people about Christ, about GOD's mercy and grace, how being a follower of Christ has affected your life. Not arguing or debating whether it is true or not, whether this part or that part applies to today or it's revelancy to our society. If a person hears the Truth but rejects It for whatever reason, that is not our fault. It is between them and GOD. If one has a saving faith in Christ, they will not lose that faith, no matter what someone else may say. Mature or not. Saving faith in Christ is guaranteed by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and nothing (nothing) can take that away. Not even ourselves. Otherwise, it is not saving faith.


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#5
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Jusus says that if a person, or even a city, will not listen to you or welcome you, then you are shake off the dust from your shoes and walk away. Being a witness means telling people about Christ, about GOD's mercy and grace, how being a follower of Christ has affected your life. Not arguing or debating whether it is true or not, whether this part or that part applies to today or it's revelancy to our society. If a person hears the Truth but rejects It for whatever reason, that is not our fault. It is between them and GOD. If one has a saving faith in Christ, they will not lose that faith, no matter what someone else may say. Mature or not. Saving faith in Christ is guaranteed by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and nothing (nothing) can take that away. Not even ourselves. Otherwise, it is not saving faith.

sure, but faith can be rattled and there can be negative effects.

 

You may be correct about avoiding debates with them and perhaps that is the solution.


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#6
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sure, but faith can be rattled and there can be negative effects.

 

Eph 1:13-14 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession--to the praise of his glory.
 


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#7
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sure, but faith can be rattled and there can be negative effects.

Absolutely, everyone (maybe) has moments of doubt, with the minimum negative effect of some loss of peace (which is the devil's intent). But, if you have saving faith, you know that your faith is true and therefore cannot be lost.


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#8
alphaparticle

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sure, but faith can be rattled and there can be negative effects.

Absolutely, everyone (maybe) has moments of doubt, with the minimum negative effect of some loss of peace (which is the devil's intent). But, if you have saving faith, you know that your faith is true and therefore cannot be lost.

 

 

When you are in the middle of doubting, you can doubt all that too. If you aren't inclined to debate atheists, none of this is going to be an issue.

 

My point here is that people ought to be aware that if they are apologetically minded, there are difficult arguments out there, and they really ought to prepare properly. It takes real work. It may be that some are called to engage these arguments, and that's great, but it isn't going to happen over night, or even over a few months. It may take years to be fully prepared.


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Alpha, when you talk about arguments against God are you talking about God in general or specifically the Christian God and in what capacity (i.e. the Christian God of William Lane Craig is different than the Christian God of John Dominic Crossan or John Shelby Spong)? 

 

I'm also curious as to why you think problematic passages in the Bible are poor arguments? Sure you can't disprove the existence of God through those arguments, but I feel I can make a very good case that these passages support the idea that the book itself is a human product and should be treated as such (to say nothing of higher criticism, let alone what those passages would mean in terms of God's morality, purpose, and priorities). Especially when you consider similar arguments (this was brought to my attention in full force by Spong) that propose that the concept of God changed throughout the centuries from a tribal deity to a universal God. Again it doesn't disprove the existence of God or the supernatural (I think it codifies the idea that spirituality is intrinsically part of the human experience), but I think it does help put it in perspective and makes clear that some versions of God simply don't hold water. 

 

This might call for a new thread but we'll see, I'm wondering since you seem to be engaged in sophisticated atheism if you can direct me to sophisticated arguments for Christianity or God in general? 


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Alpha, when you talk about arguments against God are you talking about God in general or specifically the Christian God and in what capacity (i.e. the Christian God of William Lane Craig is different than the Christian God of John Dominic Crossan or John Shelby Spong)? 

 

I'm also curious as to why you think problematic passages in the Bible are poor arguments? Sure you can't disprove the existence of God through those arguments, but I feel I can make a very good case that these passages support the idea that the book itself is a human product and should be treated as such (to say nothing of higher criticism, let alone what those passages would mean in terms of God's morality, purpose, and priorities). Especially when you consider similar arguments (this was brought to my attention in full force by Spong) that propose that the concept of God changed throughout the centuries from a tribal deity to a universal God. Again it doesn't disprove the existence of God or the supernatural (I think it codifies the idea that spirituality is intrinsically part of the human experience), but I think it does help put it in perspective and makes clear that some versions of God simply don't hold water. 

 

This might call for a new thread but we'll see, I'm wondering since you seem to be engaged in sophisticated atheism if you can direct me to sophisticated arguments for Christianity or God in general? 

I mean particularly for the Christian case. My point with this thread is that there is unsophisticated atheism, which is represented by the large majority of atheists any individual is likely to meet, but that may mislead someone to underestimate the atheist case and they will be unprepared when and if they encounter a representative of a more sophisticated atheist.
 

I'm not actually interested in running arguments on you here D9, as it wasn't the point of the thread.


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#11
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I really think it is useful for a firmly grounded believer to read some of the opposition's arguments in books.  It is somewhat common curtesy.   We always ask atheists and agnostics to read our books and listen to our arguments.  The least we can do is be open minded toward theirs.  It will better prepare us for encounters with these views and arguments, giving us time to do our homework and have an answer whenever possible.


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#12
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Most atheists, these days in particular with new atheism, have little of substance to say. Their arguments are exceptionally poor. They do things like, quote 'problematic' biblical passages that someone else found to show that God has ordered people killed, that sort of thing. They make naive comparisons between belief in God and belief in Santa. They will complain about the crusades and witch hunts. They will scatter a bunch of these half baked notions at you, without stopping to digest any possible response, and walk away feeling triumphant that their 'reason' has triumphed against your faith. These people are problematic only insofar as they can take in others who are very poorly prepared, poorly educated in their faith, and make it sound like educated, smart people need to be atheists. I can't imagine they are a problem for anyone who is rooted. I'm sure there's plenty to say about the run of the mill new atheist, the one who maybe read a Sam Harris book and spent some time snickering on the internet. My concern is more that these types will cause complacency for believers. What happens when a believer encounters of a few of these guys, and then assumes this is as good as it gets from the unbelieving secular crowd as a challenge?

 

My concern is about those atheists/agnostics who are not a part of this naive new atheist crowd, and have taken the time to get to know their arguments. For those who don't have experience with them, they might be taken as the easier sort I described above. Believers who have only really experienced the easier sort will not be prepared for the sophisticated version of atheist. As one example, there are secular types who are university scholars in the New Testament. It does not seem wise to me to assume that in an encounter with someone like this, I could defeat them no problem. There are secular types who are professional philosophers, and so forth. I'm not arguing that these people are unbeatable, not at all, but it's going to take some real time and effort to deal with what they have to say. The types of atheists who take the time to get to know serious arguments, serious content, are going to pose a risk. It's not because they are right, but it's because naive believers who may have never encountered a real, seriously thought out alternative to their faith will encounter it. These nonbelievers are often a part of an intellectual elite, where the message "smart people are nonbelievers" actually comes alive rather than blithely asserted. They present a worldview that becomes attractive in very subtle ways.

 

When the truth is that even your most basic Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins type argument can sway some believers to walk away (even if it's only for a time), it seems wise to have a bit more respect for the opposition here. The upshot of what I am saying is, I think believers should not assume every secular nonbelieving type is going to offer easy to dismiss arguments, and that I think believers should be aware of that and overall much more prepared.

 

My question to you is, what your experiences are with this, if you think I'm correct, and what you'd suggest others do specifically if they want to atheist or agnostics?

 

I think we must remember these highly educated atheists are attempting to defend their unbelief and they have been nurtured by the academic system to do this ( well in Australia this is true ) . In Universities especially many lecturers, particularly science based, tend to drop philosophical tidbits about God in the classroom ( often in a mocking manner ) so people are "taught" to be unbelievers. There are many arguments that will tie you in knots if you allow them and, as you know, not every argument can be refuted to the point of winning. 

 

I suggest no one has been "argued into belief and, although it's ok to discuss/debate the atheists reasons for unbelief and our reasons for belief of course, it's important to push forward with the truth of the Gospel amid the discussion. I don't think many of these "educated" atheists are at the point of open mindedness early in their anti-God arguments period and they will not humble themselves to accept anything against their unbelief. ( Mind you many Christians are the same concerning doctrinal positions. :D ). Humility implies teach-ability and this becomes a problem because an increase in knowledge often has the effect of making us less teachable. Ironic. Maybe this is partly why Jesus suggested we need to be like the little children to enter the Kingdom.

 

 

In short I think we should never leave the Gospel out of the arguments and always steer them in that direction. God can defend His existence and has done so very well.  I agree we should be well versed in certain logic arguments ( if we want to debate them ) but the most important thing isn't winning the argument but presenting the Gospel. After all educated Atheist will have a bagful of marbles and simply select another shiny one so long as they remain in unbelief.

 

Oh as an aside do you notice how many atheists attempt to malign the character of God as part of their arguments ? It's interesting and this is a usual rebellion symptom in humans.


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#13
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Most atheists, these days in particular with new atheism, have little of substance to say. Their arguments are exceptionally poor. They do things like, quote 'problematic' biblical passages that someone else found to show that God has ordered people killed, that sort of thing. They make naive comparisons between belief in God and belief in Santa. They will complain about the crusades and witch hunts. They will scatter a bunch of these half baked notions at you, without stopping to digest any possible response, and walk away feeling triumphant that their 'reason' has triumphed against your faith. These people are problematic only insofar as they can take in others who are very poorly prepared, poorly educated in their faith, and make it sound like educated, smart people need to be atheists. I can't imagine they are a problem for anyone who is rooted.

 

Problematic passages don't justify atheism at all. None of what's above justify this belief.


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#14
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Most atheists, these days in particular with new atheism, have little of substance to say. Their arguments are exceptionally poor. They do things like, quote 'problematic' biblical passages that someone else found to show that God has ordered people killed, that sort of thing. They make naive comparisons between belief in God and belief in Santa. They will complain about the crusades and witch hunts. They will scatter a bunch of these half baked notions at you, without stopping to digest any possible response, and walk away feeling triumphant that their 'reason' has triumphed against your faith. These people are problematic only insofar as they can take in others who are very poorly prepared, poorly educated in their faith, and make it sound like educated, smart people need to be atheists. I can't imagine they are a problem for anyone who is rooted.

 

Problematic passages don't justify atheism at all. None of what's above justify this belief.

 

Nothing justifies atheism does it? How could it when it is a belief in well, nothing?


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#15
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Most atheists, these days in particular with new atheism, have little of substance to say. Their arguments are exceptionally poor. They do things like, quote 'problematic' biblical passages that someone else found to show that God has ordered people killed, that sort of thing. They make naive comparisons between belief in God and belief in Santa. They will complain about the crusades and witch hunts. They will scatter a bunch of these half baked notions at you, without stopping to digest any possible response, and walk away feeling triumphant that their 'reason' has triumphed against your faith. These people are problematic only insofar as they can take in others who are very poorly prepared, poorly educated in their faith, and make it sound like educated, smart people need to be atheists. I can't imagine they are a problem for anyone who is rooted.

 

Problematic passages don't justify atheism at all. None of what's above justify this belief.

 

Nothing justifies atheism does it? How could it when it is a belief in well, nothing?

 

However, atheism is rising in western countries. Reasons have to be searched for and treated.


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#16
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Most atheists, these days in particular with new atheism, have little of substance to say. Their arguments are exceptionally poor. They do things like, quote 'problematic' biblical passages that someone else found to show that God has ordered people killed, that sort of thing. They make naive comparisons between belief in God and belief in Santa. They will complain about the crusades and witch hunts. They will scatter a bunch of these half baked notions at you, without stopping to digest any possible response, and walk away feeling triumphant that their 'reason' has triumphed against your faith. These people are problematic only insofar as they can take in others who are very poorly prepared, poorly educated in their faith, and make it sound like educated, smart people need to be atheists. I can't imagine they are a problem for anyone who is rooted.

 

Problematic passages don't justify atheism at all. None of what's above justify this belief.

 

I don't disagree but the fact is there are plenty of atheists out there who think it's a valid inference to make.


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#17
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Most atheists, these days in particular with new atheism, have little of substance to say. Their arguments are exceptionally poor. They do things like, quote 'problematic' biblical passages that someone else found to show that God has ordered people killed, that sort of thing. They make naive comparisons between belief in God and belief in Santa. They will complain about the crusades and witch hunts. They will scatter a bunch of these half baked notions at you, without stopping to digest any possible response, and walk away feeling triumphant that their 'reason' has triumphed against your faith. These people are problematic only insofar as they can take in others who are very poorly prepared, poorly educated in their faith, and make it sound like educated, smart people need to be atheists. I can't imagine they are a problem for anyone who is rooted. I'm sure there's plenty to say about the run of the mill new atheist, the one who maybe read a Sam Harris book and spent some time snickering on the internet. My concern is more that these types will cause complacency for believers. What happens when a believer encounters of a few of these guys, and then assumes this is as good as it gets from the unbelieving secular crowd as a challenge?

 

My concern is about those atheists/agnostics who are not a part of this naive new atheist crowd, and have taken the time to get to know their arguments. For those who don't have experience with them, they might be taken as the easier sort I described above. Believers who have only really experienced the easier sort will not be prepared for the sophisticated version of atheist. As one example, there are secular types who are university scholars in the New Testament. It does not seem wise to me to assume that in an encounter with someone like this, I could defeat them no problem. There are secular types who are professional philosophers, and so forth. I'm not arguing that these people are unbeatable, not at all, but it's going to take some real time and effort to deal with what they have to say. The types of atheists who take the time to get to know serious arguments, serious content, are going to pose a risk. It's not because they are right, but it's because naive believers who may have never encountered a real, seriously thought out alternative to their faith will encounter it. These nonbelievers are often a part of an intellectual elite, where the message "smart people are nonbelievers" actually comes alive rather than blithely asserted. They present a worldview that becomes attractive in very subtle ways.

 

When the truth is that even your most basic Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins type argument can sway some believers to walk away (even if it's only for a time), it seems wise to have a bit more respect for the opposition here. The upshot of what I am saying is, I think believers should not assume every secular nonbelieving type is going to offer easy to dismiss arguments, and that I think believers should be aware of that and overall much more prepared.

 

My question to you is, what your experiences are with this, if you think I'm correct, and what you'd suggest others do specifically if they want to atheist or agnostics?

Its easy to post something that most people in this forum will agree on. You know that your safe here surrounded by like minded people.


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#18
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Most atheists, these days in particular with new atheism, have little of substance to say. Their arguments are exceptionally poor. They do things like, quote 'problematic' biblical passages that someone else found to show that God has ordered people killed, that sort of thing. They make naive comparisons between belief in God and belief in Santa. They will complain about the crusades and witch hunts. They will scatter a bunch of these half baked notions at you, without stopping to digest any possible response, and walk away feeling triumphant that their 'reason' has triumphed against your faith. These people are problematic only insofar as they can take in others who are very poorly prepared, poorly educated in their faith, and make it sound like educated, smart people need to be atheists. I can't imagine they are a problem for anyone who is rooted. I'm sure there's plenty to say about the run of the mill new atheist, the one who maybe read a Sam Harris book and spent some time snickering on the internet. My concern is more that these types will cause complacency for believers. What happens when a believer encounters of a few of these guys, and then assumes this is as good as it gets from the unbelieving secular crowd as a challenge?

 

My concern is about those atheists/agnostics who are not a part of this naive new atheist crowd, and have taken the time to get to know their arguments. For those who don't have experience with them, they might be taken as the easier sort I described above. Believers who have only really experienced the easier sort will not be prepared for the sophisticated version of atheist. As one example, there are secular types who are university scholars in the New Testament. It does not seem wise to me to assume that in an encounter with someone like this, I could defeat them no problem. There are secular types who are professional philosophers, and so forth. I'm not arguing that these people are unbeatable, not at all, but it's going to take some real time and effort to deal with what they have to say. The types of atheists who take the time to get to know serious arguments, serious content, are going to pose a risk. It's not because they are right, but it's because naive believers who may have never encountered a real, seriously thought out alternative to their faith will encounter it. These nonbelievers are often a part of an intellectual elite, where the message "smart people are nonbelievers" actually comes alive rather than blithely asserted. They present a worldview that becomes attractive in very subtle ways.

 

When the truth is that even your most basic Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins type argument can sway some believers to walk away (even if it's only for a time), it seems wise to have a bit more respect for the opposition here. The upshot of what I am saying is, I think believers should not assume every secular nonbelieving type is going to offer easy to dismiss arguments, and that I think believers should be aware of that and overall much more prepared.

 

My question to you is, what your experiences are with this, if you think I'm correct, and what you'd suggest others do specifically if they want to atheist or agnostics?

Its easy to post something that most people in this forum will agree on. You know that your safe here surrounded by like minded people.

 

 

If a person posts 1 + 1 = 2 on a mathematics forum then you could say exactly the same thing.

 

It's rather interesting that in a discussion on how many new atheist remarks lack substance you've gone and responded with a remark that has no substance.


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#19
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This for me is a very interesting post,as I was not a practising Christian for a long time ,because of christians . So very many

people who were brought up as one ,who went to Church etc were not true believers,for they had not the gift of the Holy Spirit,Who

not only reveals to us,the love of God in in our hearts but enlightens our mind and pushes us to find the 'truth' ,of which the bible is only the beginning,the basis of .

The problem for most people is that the 'inner light',being an inner light, needs to be fed with silent study ,prayer ,and reading of God's word. It clashes in the early stages with being in the world ,earning our living ,building a society ,especially one in big cities,where movement is non stop.

   Many scientists ,apart from those gifted with the H.S.,are of the world ,they see only what is pragmatic to see ,for their unconcious minds wish power over the world, These trypes are always carnally minded,incapable of of the understanding,transcendence,that is

the 'world' behind the obvious one, that can be seen by the senses.

Chrstians have approached this problem from the wrong angle,always talking of a transcendant God, not understanding that they need to learn to 'know' and how to explain better from the everyday modern reality, of how God's creation works,in the here and now.

When they do that ,some 'atheists' will begin to listen . Good teachers do not Hammer lessons ,but try to put themselves in the shoes of the other . To do that they have to learn lessons themselves . God sets up obstacles ,like any good teacher to deepen ,and expand our 'knowledge' of who He really is ,and what He wants us to be ,become.

So to finish God allows obstacles ,difficulties in the lives of christians to force them out of complacence,and ignorance,hence the net,

the universal tool,planned by God, for His universal Church,you and me.


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#20
Cletus

Cletus
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why would you argue with a fool?  (a fool saith in his heart there is no God)  if someone is on a quest to disprove the existance of their own creator I do not understand why you would jump in the way of trouble.  If the Holy Spirit is drawing someone it will be easy to plant seeds and not in an argumentitive fashion.  You can not talk sense into a fool.  I agree we should love our neighbor but scripture does give warning against such:

 

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.  Matt 7:6


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